Helen receives word from the exiled Greek Teucer that Menelaus has drowned, putting her in the perilous position of being available for Theoclymenus to marry, and she consults Theonoe, sister to the king, to find out her husband's fate.
Her fears are allayed when a stranger arrives in Egypt and turns out to be Menelaus himself, and the long-separated couple recognize each other. At first, Menelaus does not believe that she is the real Helen, since he has hidden the Helen he won in Troy in a cave. However, the woman he was shipwrecked with was in reality, only a mere phantom of the real Helen. Before the Trojan war even began, a judgement took place, one that Paris was involved in. He gave the Goddess Aphrodite the award of the fairest since she bribed him with Helen as a bride. To take their revenge on Paris, the remaining goddesses, Athena and Hera, replaced the real Helen with a phantom. However, Menelaus did not know better. But luckily one of his sailors steps in to inform him that the false Helen has disappeared into thin air.
The couple still must figure out how to escape from Egypt, but fortunately, the rumor that Menelaus has died is still in circulation. Thus, Helen tells Theoclymenus that the stranger who came ashore was a messenger there to tell her that her husband was truly dead. She informs the king that she may marry him as soon as she has performed a ritual burial at sea, thus freeing her symbolically from her first wedding vows. The king agrees to this, and Helen and Menelaus use this opportunity to escape on the boat given to them for the ceremony.
Theoclymenus is furious when he learns of the trick and nearly murders his sister Theonoe for not telling him that Menelaus is still alive. However, he is prevented by the miraculous intervention of the demi-gods Castor and Polydeuces, brothers of Helen and the sons of Zeus and Leda.